Water, sewer rate increases won’t be as much next year for Carlsbad

CARLSBAD — The expected water and sewer rate increases slated for next year will be lowered following a ruling by City Council Tuesday, and the $29.4 million expansion of the CWRF (Carlsbad Water Recycling Facility) was OK’d to help meet the demands for recycled water. 

The CMWD (Carlsbad Municipal Water District) was able to lower water and sewer rate increases due to the city’s unexpected higher revenues and lower expenditures over the past year.

In December 2011, the CMWD and City Council approved hikes in water and sewer rates for 2012 and 2013 in order to handle the increasing costs of water, funding the replacement reserve and achieving a minimum of 30 percent operating reserve by 2014-15.

Instead of the previously expected 10 percent rate increase for water and 6 percent rate increase for sewer services in 2013, rates in January will be lowered to 8 percent for water and 2 percent for sewer.

The rates will still result in an approximate $5.81 increase for the average single family’s monthly water and sewer bill, but are among some of the lowest water and sewer rates in San Diego County, according to CMWD data.

Council also unanimously supported a motion to double the capacity of the CWRF due to the increased demand of recycled water from future developments, landscape retrofits, cooling towers and industrial use within Carlsbad and neighboring cities.

Under the approved Phase III Recycled Water Project, the CWRF and its distribution system will be expanded to provide 8 million gallons per day, compared to its current 4 million gallons per day.

The CMWD has projected that an extra 3,135 acre/feet per year of recycled water will be in demand.

Potential buyers of the additional recycled water supply include the Encina Power Plant, Carlsbad Fire Station No. 2, Hope Elementary School, and the El Camino Country Club in Oceanside.

Currently, Legoland, the Four Seasons Resort, the Aviara Resort Association, the La Costa Resort and Spa, and KemperSports Management purchase the most recycled water from the CMWD.

The Phase III expansion will cost $29.4 million. The CMWD is asking to use its own funds to cover $2.9 million of the cost, and take out a State Water Resources Control Board low interest loan to cover the remaining $27 million.

The CMWD is also applying to a number of grants to pay for the project. They have already received $300,500 in grants for the project, and anticipate more to come based on the grants received for Phases I and II of the project.

The increase in recycled water production and purchases would also help diversify the City’s water supplies. In 2010, recycled water made up 18 percent of Carlsbad’s water supply. The CMWD anticipates that with the proposed Carlsbad Desalination Plant, recycled water will make up 23 percent of the city’s water supply by 2020.

The city also obtains recycled water from the Meadowlark Reclamation Facility and Gafner Water Reclamation Plant.

At the meeting Council approved a resolution of intent for the CMWD to purchase 2,500 acre-feet of desalinated water annually as part of the county’s proposed Water Purchase Agreement.

On Nov. 29, the SDCWA (San Diego County Water Authority) Board of Directors will vote on the proposed purchase agreement for desalinated water with Poseidon Resources. The agreement will contract the SDCWA to buy 48,000 acre-feet of desalinated water annually for 30 years.

As part of the agreement, Poseidon Resources will build, own and operate a water desalination plant at the Encina Power Station.

If the SDCWA Water Purchase Agreement is passed, Carlsbad will later establish a contract with the SDCWA about the city’s specific desalinated water purchases.

Councilmember Farrah Douglas, who is on the SDCWA Board of Directors, said that the desalination water purchase would be “drought-proof,” unlike the city’s current water supplies.

“It’s an investment in the future of our region,” said Douglas.



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